Festival offers Civil War reenactments, a mountain-man camp, music, food
By Matt Decker
The 38th annual Old Settlers Days will give festival-goers plenty of opportunities to learn about the history of Waynesville and Pulaski County, with reenactors and encampments depicting life during the early to mid-19th Century.
There’s also pony rides, a petting zoo, games, food, music and more.
“We’re gonna have a lot of fun,” said Denise Seevers, president of the Pulaski County Historical Society, which hosts the two-day festival with events scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Waynesville City Park.
Seevers said while the festival will have plenty of returning favorites, it also has some new events and activities this year. One of those new additions will be roving reenactors outside the usual encampments and mock battles, who will stay in character as they encounter festival-goers.
“I’m warning the public to watch out for bushwhackers,” Seevers said. “They’ll be wandering through the crowds and will be in character all weekend. We also have ladies who wander around in their period dresses.”
Throughout the festival, visitors can enjoy food, arts, crafts and more offered by vendors from across the country, as well as activities geared specifically for families and children.
“We’ll have lots of food, and we’ve got a lot of crafters coming in — we even have a knife forge coming this year,” Seevers said. “We will have ‘A Zoo for You,’ which will be back this year with their animals. We also have the pony rides back this year. The Kiwanis Club will be back with their inflatable obstacle course for kids; we have face painting and a few other things for the children.”This will be the third year the festival has included Civil War reenactors, who come from across the country to re-create historically accurate campsite conditions.
The Kickapoo-Trace Muzzleloaders, who have been a part of the festival since its early years, will also have a campsite. The locally based black-powder shooting club recreates the era of the Mountain Man, trappers and traders who paved the way for western expansion from the early 1800s through the 1840s.
“We also have a small civilian Civil War encampment, which is new this year,” Seevers said. “Often times, families would follow their loved ones, as long as it was near enough to be feasible.”
All encampments will be open at 8 a.m. for visitors to tour both days of the festival.
“At all encampments, there will be demonstrations going on showing the way of life during their times. At the Civil War camps, there will be some drills and horsemanship demonstrations going on throughout the day,” Seevers said.
— At 10 a.m., the festival’s opening ceremony takes place, punctuated by an opening volley fired jointly by Kickapoo-Trace Muzzleloaders and Civil War reenactors.
— Also at 10 a.m., both of Waynesville’s historic museums, which are within walking distance of the park, will open for the day. The Old Stagecoach Stop will remain open until 4 p.m., while the Pulaski County 1903 Courthouse Museum will be open until 2 p.m.
— At 10:30 a.m., musical entertainment begins with Back Porch Players performing at Pavilion 3 until 5 p.m., and traditional music by Spike and Janis until 11 a.m. at the stage.
— Also at 10:30 a.m., the 175th Anniversary Celebration of Waynesville as the County Seat will take place at Pavilion 4, and the first heat of the annual Armed Services YMCA Pulaski County Duck Race takes place on the Roubidoux Creek. The annual race features decorated duck decoys, which float down the creek in a series of heats to determine the winners.
— At 11:30 a.m., Pyro Pat Productions entertains with fire at the stage.
— At 1 p.m. the Flower O’ Scotland dance troupe performs at Pavilion 1.
— Also at 1 p.m., the Armed Services YMCA Duck Race championship race is scheduled to take place.
— At 2 p.m., a Civil War battle reenactment is planned. Seevers said the festival has accommodated more room for this year’s reenactments. “The battlefield will be on the soccer fields behind the area where the old middle-school building used to be,” she explained.
— From 5 to 7 p.m., the encampments will be closed to the public.
— At 7 p.m., a Civil War period dance with music by the Back Porch Players will be held at the park. The event is open to the public. “We’ll have a dance caller, and people in period dress can dance, and everyone can have a good time,” Seevers said.
— At 7:30 p.m., Civil War reenactor Wayne Issleb leads a cast of reenactors in his original play, “An Evening With General Grant,” across the street from the park at the Theater on the Square in downtown Waynesville. (See story Page B1).
— At 8:30 p.m. the festival will hold a Night Fire and Artillery Show. “Immediately following the dance, we will have cannon night fire this year,” Seevers said.
The festival continues Sunday with the opening of the respective encampments at 8 a.m. Other activities on the schedule include:
— At 9:30 a.m., a Period Church Service will be held at the stage.
— At 10 a.m., the Back Porch Players will perform gospel music.
— At 1 p.m., the second Civil War battle reenactment will be held.
— At 3:30 p.m., the event ends.
Overall, Seevers hopes this year’s festival has something for everyone.
“It promises to be really neat this year,” she said. “Every year, we try to add something to make it different, and we think this year it will be a lot of fun. We hope to see everyone there.”
For more information about the annual Old Settlers Days festival, visit the “Pulaski County Museum & Historical Society” Facebook page, or visit www.route66courthouse.com.